The Timing Tests

* NOTE: For all of our time tests, the cameras were reset to their factory default settings and then set to the highest recording resolution and quality. The Kodak and Casio cameras were loaded with a PNY 512MB SD card and the Olympus was loaded with a Fujifilm 256MB xD-Picture Card.

Shutter Lag

Before reading our results, please refer to our Testing Procedures page. For our shutter lag test, we performed 2 separate tests on each camera. For the first test, we pre-focused the lens and then measured the amount of time it took for the camera to take a picture after we pressed the shutter button. For the second test, we included the focusing time in our measurement to record a more general "lag" time. This is the time it takes the camera to focus and take a picture.

   Shutter Lag excluding focus (seconds)  Shutter Lag including focus (seconds)
Kodak DX4530 .07 .81
Olympus C-50 Zoom ‹ .05 .73
Casio QV-R51 ‹ .05 .27

As you can see, the difference between all 3 cameras for the pre-focused times was very small. This difference was not even noticeable when using the cameras. The real issue is how fast the cameras were able to focus and take a picture. The Casio QV-R51 beat the Kodak and Olympus hands down with an average time of .27 sec. This gave the Casio a very responsive feeling when taking a picture. After pushing the shutter button, the Kodak camera was the slowest to shoot with an average of .81 sec. and the Olympus was just a little bit faster at .73 sec. In short, the Casio camera was really the best performer in terms of shutter lag and general shooting lag.

Startup Time

The startup time for each camera is recorded from the moment the power button is pushed to the moment the camera's shutter sounds.

   Startup time (seconds)
Kodak DX4530 6.02
Olympus C-50 Zoom 5.70
Casio QV-R51 2.58

Again, Casio is the clear winner in our startup time test. The Kodak and Olympus cameras really take their time extending their lenses after the power is turned on. If you were trying to capture a moment as fast as possible, the Kodak and the Olympus could really be irritating.

Write Times

We recorded 4 different types of write times: Single shot, Shot to shot, Shot to shot w/flash, and Shot to shot w/buffer full.

Single Shot - The time it takes for a single picture to be completely written to the flash card
Shot To Shot (STS) - The time until the second shot is able to be taken after the first
Shot To Shot w/flash - The time it takes for the camera to take two pictures with the flash, starting from the moment the first flash is fired to the moment the second is fired
Shot To Shot (Buffer Full) - The time until the camera is able to take another shot after the in-camera buffer is full

We set the cameras to their highest quality JPG setting and ran the same 4 tests on each camera 3 times and averaged the results. If the cameras offered an uncompressed setting, we ran both the tests with both JPG and uncompressed settings. First, we'll start with the JPG write times. Below are the resolution and quality settings for each camera.

JPG Times

 Camera Settings (JPG)
Kodak DX4530 JPG, 2580x1932; Avg. file size = 880KB
Olympus C-50 Zoom JPG, 2560x1920; Avg. file size = 2MB
Casio QV-R51 JPG fine, 2560x1920; Avg. file size = 900KB

 Results (in seconds)
   Single Shot  Shot To Shot  Shot To Shot w/Flash  Shot To Shot w/Buffer Full
Kodak DX4530 9.02 2.52 2.54 4.32
Olympus C-50 Zoom 2.93 3.50 7.78 Same as STS
Casio QV-R51 2.90 4.24 8.51 Same as STS

Although Kodak has a 9.02 sec. time for the Single Shot test, we were able to take 6 pictures in a row at 1 frame every 2.52 sec. There is not a dedicated "disk activity" light on the DX4530, so we measured the time that the green "ready" light was blinking after a picture was taken. The DX4530 outperformed both the Olympus and the Casio for Shot to Shot, Shot to Shot w/Flash, and Shot to Shot w/Buffer Full times. The Olympus and Casio cameras were exceptionally slow for Shot to Shot w/Flash times. Although the Olympus and Casio cameras performed worse than the Kodak camera for the first 6 pictures, it is worth noting that after the 6th picture, the C-50 Zoom and the QV-R51 still shot at their usual Shot to Shot time while the DX4530 slowed down to 4.32 sec. So, the Kodak camera is going to perform better if you want to take 6 pictures in a row (with or without flash) while the Olympus and Casio cameras will do a little bit better for more continuous shooting.

Uncompressed Times

 Camera Settings (Uncompressed)
Kodak DX4530 N/A
Olympus C-50 Zoom TIFF, 2560x1920; Avg. file size = 15MB
Casio QV-R51 N/A

 Results (in seconds)
   Single Shot  Shot To Shot  Shot To Shot w/Flash  Shot To Shot w/Buffer Full
Kodak DX4530 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Olympus C-50 Zoom 21.22 25.25 25.28 Same as STS
Casio QV-R51 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Since the C-50 Zoom was the only camera to offer an uncompressed recording mode, we don't have much for comparison here. However, it should be obvious that 25 seconds between shots is totally unacceptable for any camera. It is nice to have the option to shoot uncompressed, but almost useless at this speed.

Battery Performance Resolving Fine Lines
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  • LX - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    A review of digicams on AnandTech is like a review of CPUs on dpreview or a review of motherboards on imaging-resource.

    Choosing digicams for comparison based on their pixel count is like comparing CPUs based on their MHz.

    Please stick to your field of competence!
    Reply
  • Mermaidman - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    What next? A review of the new and improved ROOMBA robot vacuum? :p Reply
  • reljam - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    This review was really below the 'Anandtech standard'. The comments posted above are all valid, but you completely forgot to do indoor tests.

    Cameras (especially small ones) suffer from not being able to produce a sharp image in low light conditions. Taking three shots outdoors, even on a cloudy day is going to give you decent results 90% of the time. If you want to see noise, try taking indoor shots with the flash on. In indoor shots flash range becomes very important (portrait-only flash is unacceptable), and the amount of noise in the background is something that's a very real problem.

    Your testing methodology is roughly like taking a Celeron, a P IV and and AMD64 and running IE page rendering tests - yes, there may be differences, but that's not the distinguishing feature.
    Reply
  • nigham - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    I think the review was done fairly well - though I am disappointed to say that at the end of it, I'm certainly not going to buy any of these things. All of them sure seem to have a few problems.

    physologically speaking, the best feeling i get after an anandtech article is when i really feel - hey i should actually go ahead and buy this thing... zilch of that here.

    so what you probably need is to review all of these along with some really good cameras (and i'm sure they're out there - having used a DSC-P93 i can say that the picture quality is definitely better than the pics i've seen in this review).

    if price range is your method of choosing "similar" cameras, i'd agree with SKiller and say go ahead and include 3/4 mp cameras if they've got much better quality, alongside the 5 mp ones, and let us make the choice of what we want to pay for. personally i can't for the life of me think what i'd ever do with a 2500x2000 pixel image.

    i think for a first effort in the humanly-priced cameras, this was OK and i'm sure you guys will only keep getting better.
    Reply
  • EddNog - Friday, July 16, 2004 - link

    I say screw it and just buy a Canon. ;-P Reply
  • ianmills - Thursday, July 15, 2004 - link

    ahahaha
    :)
    Reply
  • WooDaddy - Thursday, July 15, 2004 - link

    This is a TOTAL waste of time. Let me count the ways:

    1) All of the pages were direct testing method rips from dpreview.

    2) THE CAMERAS ALL CAME FROM DIFFERENT YEARS (development cycles)!!! 2002, 2003, 2004?!? COME ON!! If you are going to have a comparision, compare cameras built within the same time frame! Do you think Anand, Wesley or Kris would attempt to do an apples to apples direct comparo on CPUs that were three years apart!?! NO!

    3) WTF is with this conclusion!? THERE IS NO ADDED VALUE TO ALL THAT TESTING YOU DID! If you realized that those cameras weren't similar enough, the review should've stopped. The only difference you could find was price!? All Anandtech readers should feel insulted by that.

    4) What was the basis for choosing these cameras?When CPU or Mobo comparision are done, they are done with products that are marketed to be similar. I didn't see the logic in choosing these three.. as a matter of fact, no reasoning was given at all.


    Lastly, Anand, Kris, or whoever senior editors.. I am disappointed in YOU more so than anyone else. Don't you review the articles posted? Virtually every single article that you've posted in the years have had relevance, structure, in-depth conclusion, value-added information to bring upon very educated purchasing decisions. Two hiccups back to back like this is horrible. You've done research, so research what makes a good digital camera review... NO! Consider your purpose first. Anandtech is not a digital camera review site. That is such a large genre and almost completely separate from IT-based products. It's like going to McDonalds and not only asking and getting a filet mignon, but then expecting it to be as good ...

    To slightly calm down, I don't believe that Anandtech is the appropiate forum for articles like this. I also didn't think the review represented the quality and in-depth nature of the majority of the reviews here. I believe the attempt add digital cameras to the review list is showing that the genre of the website is starting to lose its direction. Anandtech is a IT and consumer level PC product review site, not a general blog, review everything website. Digital cameras have links to this world but are not a subset.
    Reply
  • WooDaddy - Thursday, July 15, 2004 - link

    Look...

    ....

    I'm really pissed about this. Let me calm down and post later...
    Reply
  • SKiller - Thursday, July 15, 2004 - link

    5mp cameras at this price range are still not a very good option IMHO. They tend to sacrifice quality and features for the added resolution. I think that 3-4mp cameras at this price can give much better results unless you absolutely have to have 5mp.

    I'd consider Canon PowerShot A75, A80, Fujifilm FinePix F601Z, Kodak DX6340, and Samsung Digimax V4 from the "more advanced features" category.

    Good review though.
    Reply

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